Imagine working on a project you’re extremely passionate about. Day after day, you’ve been burning the midnight oil in an effort to make some headway.
Suddenly; your manager changes the project’s budget allocation. Or even worse, preponed the deadline.
Frustrating, isn’t it?
Curveballs like these can create an adverse impact on whatever you’ve been working on, and can often lead to disappointing results.
So, learning how to manage them with pre-determined systems should be top priority for every organization.
This is where a change control process comes in. By developing one, you can guide your team seamlessly into new project developments—with minimum fuss.
Let’s not forget, this is the only aspect of the change management system that allows you to register requests for change and define the roles of change within a team or a company.
If you are still not sure what a change control process is or how it works, we’re going to delve into the details in this article.
What is change control?
Simply put, change control is responsible for systematically managing all the changes made to a product or a project.
With a change control process, you can identify and document the changes the organization requires, and manage it in such a way that there is no disruption to the project or to the organization.
The main goal is to make sure that no unnecessary changes are made to prevent wastage of resources or time.
When a change is being implemented, it leads to a complete reorganization of the resource and budget required for new developments.
The project manager uses this process to create a plan, after considering the scale and complexity of the change.
This way, they can limit unauthorized changes, eliminate errors and use resources wisely.
One of the prime examples of change control are the digital transformations every organization had to go through during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Most organizations were caught off-guard by the need for a digital-first approach and struggled to implement it, especially because of employee pushback and a lack of digitalization strategy.
This was expected, considering it was a change that had to be implemented on a large scale, requiring inter-departmental support.
Organizations with change control processes in place were able to handle the situation much better, leading to seamless project execution.
A common tactic used to get employees onboard is resistance management. With resistance management training, you can shape employee attitudes toward new changes in an organization.
For this, you need to understand the reason for employee pushback and provide an open communication channel.
Change control vs. change management
Think of the change control process as a part of the change management process — a part of the whole.
It streamlines the accepted change and helps businesses organize and adapt to the new workflow.
With change control, you can formally document required changes and control the flow of information to best suit the project’s needs.
On the flip side, a change management plan is a complete plan of action. Here, you will have to consider all aspects like budgeting, scheduling, communication and implementation.
So, in a nutshell, a change control process refers to the formal request made when a change is to be implemented while change management encompasses the whole process of bringing about the change.
3 Benefits of change control
A change control process is a crucial aspect to any business that wishes to evolve and adapt to changing times.
Not only does it help businesses organize their team and assigned tasks, but also increases efficiency.
The plan makes it easy for the team members to transition without fear. It can help businesses form a resource management plan and attain their work management goals.
The project manager helps employees recognize the need for change and empower them to achieve the new goals related to the change.
Here are three main benefits of a change control process:
Project delivery can get delayed due to confusion regarding the changes and a poorly managed execution of the same.
By eliminating this confusion, you can improve team productivity.
This way, employees will have a better understanding of what's expected and work towards the set goal.
With a proper plan in place, people can start working on these new changes immediately.
This will increase both their productivity and efficiency levels.
With a change control process in place, you can formally document all the changes in a centralized location which is easily accessible to your employees.
This helps with team communication and inter-departmental collaboration on a project.
By encouraging clear communication, you enable your team to work efficiently and creatively.
Without effective communication, people will end up wasting a lot of time assessing the new changes and acclimating to them.
When all the information is readily available, employees will remain on the same page. This prevents duplication of work.
Better change communication
New changes in an ongoing project can create a lot of confusion among employees.
For everything to work smoothly in the workplace, you need to make sure that all information is freely available to everyone.
Prioritize transparency, and send out updates to the entire team as and when you get them. This will help everyone prepare for the changes and its impact.
With information readily available, employees can also efficiently communicate with one another.
This communication will help them get input on any challenges they’re facing, along with advice on how to tackle these bottlenecks.
5 Phases of change control
Change can be hard to get used to. It disrupts the entire organization and its way of working.
Therefore, it is important to go slow with change control.
Here are the five phases in making an effective change control plan. Let’s take a look!
The first phase of the change control process is initiation, where a change is requested.
This change is requested for various reasons—inefficient business processes, technological advancement and new consumer demand, if we’re taking a big picture view.
It can also be for something simple like extending the deadline for project delivery.
This request for change can come from anyone, including employees, the team leader or even customers.
Once the change has been initiated, the project manager then files a request for it.
This request is then registered at the change log—a record of all the changes made in a project — which is subsequently stored in a place that is easily accessible to everyone.
The request made must detail the changes it is demanding and how it can benefit the company.
The initiator should also explain the reason for the change request. This form includes fields like:
- Project name.
- Request description.
- Impact of change.
There can be more such fields depending on the request made.
After the change request form has been filled out and accepted, the request will be evaluated.
In this phase, all the basic information will be reviewed, such as the resource requirement the budget as well as the impact.
A risk evaluation will then be carried out by the project manager.
If this change request passes the evaluation, it will move on to the next phase where a decision will be taken.
If rejected, the reasons will be documented and sent to the stakeholders and the change initiator.
Senior management often conducts various change management exercises during this stage to minimize resistance to change.
Here, a final decision is taken regarding the change request. After the change is approved, it will be communicated to the team.
If it's denied, it will be documented on the change log.
On request approval, a detailed plan will be made for the change initiative.
Leaders start building a clear strategy including timelines, resources, budgets and a pilot test.
They also work on ways to minimize the potential impact that will be faced by the organization during this change.
This strategy helps the organization set clear goals and creates a change communication plan.
It also clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved.
The fourth phase sees the initiation of the change action plan. Project timelines and deliverables are updated, and all the project teams are informed about it.
All the information is openly shared with the employees, so time isn’t wasted searching for information.
Always remember: this change implementation happens in phases and not at once. So, act accordingly.
Once the change is implemented, the request is closed. All documentation and change logs are stored away.
All open tasks are closed. And the changes are reviewed to see if it was a success or a failure.
Finally, when the change initiator signs off the document, the request is closed and stored for future reference.
4 Best practices during change control
The task of change control can be daunting, right from planning to implementation.
To help you with this, we have listed out a few best practices to follow during this process.
These can ensure you implement new developments in the most seamless and effective manner:
Incorporate data-driven risk assessment
Bringing in a new change always has risks associated with it. Being aware of these risks can help you manage change better.
This is why you should always look up past data for risk assessment purposes.
With a risk assessment, you can identify the risks that could negatively affect your organization’s business.
This would involve tracking metrics and data about your company’s weaknesses, risks and past performance to reveal how the change can benefit your organization.
It also helps you understand how it will impact your team members. With this information, you’ll be in a better position to make decisions about the change and plan strategies accordingly.
Neglecting a proper risk analysis can result in your entire project falling apart.
And no one wants that.
By prioritizing data-driven risk assessment, you can get immediate alerts on problems you may face in the future, and how you can mitigate them.
Once you understand the risks, make it a point to communicate them with all the stakeholders so they can take necessary action.
Use tools to automate processes
If your team is spending too much time on carrying out repetitive and redundant tasks, use automation as a quick fix.
And considering there are many free change management software and AI-based tools that can help minimize errors, reduce risk and boost operational efficiency, this approach will let you wrap up work quicker than before.
And with more accuracy, to top it off.
Say your company’s change management strategy includes the introduction of a digital software.
None of your team members are familiar with it, and it’s your job to train them.
Instead of individually training each person with presentations and classes, you can use tools that do it for you.
For example, Scribe allows you to capture your workflow — automatically turning your process into written instructions — without you having to write one word.
Here's how it's done.
Your team members can use these guides to learn about the new tool, without having to rely on another person for training.
This frees up human resources, allowing them to focus on high-value tasks that make a real impact on the company’s bottom line.
Start small and introduce changes gradually
Introducing small changes at regular intervals is a lot more effective than dumping your team with a torrent of them, all at once.
This is because small changes are easier for teams to get used to and coordinate with.
Responses from your employees regarding these changes must be tracked and monitored.
Knowing this response can help you predict their future reactions and assess what you are doing right or where you are going wrong.
Focus on a collaborative approach
A simple change can affect the entire organization like a ripple on a calm lake. Though the change process is to help teams work cohesively towards a common goal, this is only possible when everyone is on the same page.
It’s important to ensure proper collaboration between project managers and team members, so that everyone is kept in the loop.
Organizations that prioritize collaborations will find the change process easier to adjust to.
Embrace change with workflow automation!
Any change that needs to be implemented in the middle of a project can be extremely challenging.
With a change control process in place, you can guide your organization into managing new developments with zero fuss.
From taking a call on whether to implement changes to getting employees onboard and reorganizing tasks and teams, the change process is crucial for every business.
Once you start implementing change, you’ll need to automate the process so that it’s scalable.
Scribe comes in handy here, allowing your employees to impart and absorb knowledge quickly and effectively.